The news was announced by the two parties during a council meeting on Thursday. ‘We worry about how providing RUG programmes in Yantai will affect how much our diplomas are worth’, Lijst Calimero faction chair Daan van Dijk responds.
The RUG is legally obligated to ask the University Council for their consent before tendering its programmes abroad. The Board of Directors has been trying to convince the students and staff on the Council of the benefits of a China campus for the past two years. But the Personnel faction and Lijst Calimero have remained sceptical.
‘Risk too great’
‘The risk involved in taking these programmes to Yantai is too great, and the intended result is based on nothing but conjecture’, according to Van Dijk. ‘Taking these programmes to Yantai is supposed to positively influence the rankings, but so far, no other branch campuses are shown to have this effect.’
The student party also feels that a proper financial foundation, as well as a developed expansion plan, are lacking. On top of that, Lijst Calimero remains unconvinced that the RUG will be able to guarantee academic freedom at the Yantai campus. ‘Taking all this into account, we don’t feel it is wise to consent to this application’, says Van Dijk.
The Council will not officially vote on the plans until next Thursday. But the Personnel faction and Lijst Calimero are adamant that neither the staff’s nor the students’ minds will change before that time. ‘We do not currently have any questions the answers to which could lead to a different conclusion next week’, the parties stated in a press release.
Poppema is annoyed that Lijst Calimero and the Personnel faction have reached this conclusion before the committee meeting. ‘We knew you had your doubts. But here in Groningen, we try to be harmonious, which means you should have entered into a discussion before drawing conclusions. That’s not what happened here, when it’s important for us to know what it is you do want to see in the application.’
Evan Clarke, with SOG, emphasised that his party does want to talk things over. ‘We are not afraid of having a dialogue. It’s a shame that the other parties are.’
The other members of the Council have elaborated on their various objections. They worry about the size of the project, the damage to the RUG’s reputation if the project fails, the increased workload, and financing, among other things.
Poppema admits there are risks to the Chinese adventure. ‘Of course there are. But not doing it also constitutes taking a risk. The number of students in the Netherlands is decreasing and the competition from other universities is growing. If we don’t do something to set ourselves apart, we will suffer. And that might not be a problem for The Hague, but it is for us.’